Whether you’re gaming competitively or not, a gaming keyboard plays a key role in your gaming rig
A quality gaming keyboard can provide a better gaming experience, whether that’s increasing your effectiveness online or simply providing a more comfortable experience while you de-stress and enjoy a night in another world.
6 things to consider when buying your gaming keyboard
Before we get into the specific keyboards, here are 6 characteristics to consider when selecting your gaming keyboard:
1. Mechanical vs membrane
Mechanical keyboards are the classic, durable keyboards that have been around for decades.
They consist of keycaps, which, when pressed, activate high-quality, spring-loaded plastic mechanical key switches underneath each (see below for a primer on switches). You’ll hear and feel an audible “clicking” sound when the key is pressed to let you know that it registered.
Membrane (or rubber dome) keyboards, on the other hand, use rubber domes that complete the keyboard’s circuit when pressed. They’re usually manufactured at lower costs than mechanical keyboards. So while they may be all right for budget-mindful gamers, they’re also not as durable for extended or competitive gameplay.
There are also optical/photo-optical keyboards that use light-emitting diodes (LED) and photo sensors to detect when keys are activated optically. These keyboards are usually incredibly fast.
Tactility refers to the resistance as well as audio and visual feedback that you experience while typing and generating a keystroke. Mechanical keyboards are usually more tactile, while membrane keyboards are usually less tactile and soften after wear and tear thanks to their design.
The sound levels on a keyboard may or may not be important depending on which game or type of game you’re playing. For instance, if you’re playing a co-op first-person shooter (FPS) where stealth is important, being as quiet as possible when you’re sneaking up on enemies can mean the difference between success and failure in your mission.
Or if you’re really trying to concentrate on just getting through the boss level of your action-adventure game, membrane keyboards are the quietest because of their silicone/rubber cushioning.
In contrast, mechanical keyboards, with clicks at both the beginning and end of each keystroke, are louder due to their heavier and more durable material and construction.
Gaming keyboards are available without colors, monotone, or with full RGB with 16 million colors available to choose from. Many gaming keyboards have backlighting with RGB colors so you can personalize your keyboard to match your system setup or other peripherals.
And some keyboards have dynamic illumination, which changes color to correspond to commands or gaming events; for instance, being hit with a particular type of weapon. Keyboards with RGB lighting
are usually more expensive than the other types, so keep this in mind if you’re on a strict gaming budget.
A keyboard’s durability corresponds to how many keystrokes it’s able to endure over its lifespan. The average typist performs approximately 8,000 keystrokes per hour (KPH). Durable keyboards for gaming are especially important.
If you consider the sheer number of hours that gamers are spending on their keyboards, then it’s not difficult to understand how incredibly high those numbers can quickly get.
Mechanical keyboards, rated to a lifespan 20 to 50 million keystrokes depending on the type of switch they use, are much more durable than membrane keyboards, which on average last approximately 5 million keystrokes.
6. Actuation force/distance
Actuation force measures how hard you need to press the key so that the keyboard recognizes it. Ranging from 35 grams to 350 grams, actuation force varies depending on the type of keyboard. For instance, most mechanical keyboards range from 45 to 60 grams.
Actuation distance, on the other hand, is the span which the switch needs to depress to register as an input, and it’s measured from the top of the keycap. Most mechanical keyboards average a rate of 2 mm, and some go as low as 1 mm.
Keep mind that shorter actuation distance does not make for better gamers, necessarily, since it’s easier to make keyboard mistakes due to the lighter feel.
A little primer on switches
Mechanical keyboards are constructed with high-quality plastic key switches underneath each of the keycaps.
These key switches used to be manufactured exclusively by a company named Cherry, although now there are a bunch of PC keyboard manufacturers developing these same switches - companies such as Logitech, Razer, and more.
The key switches, called Cherry MX switches, are most often referenced by the color of the key stem, the part underneath the keycap that moves down when pressed.
Switches’ characteristics vary depending on things like the tactile or auditory nature of the switch, the amount of force necessary for actuation, keyboard application, or user preference.
Common Cherry MX switches include:
- Cherry Blue - switch with tactile and audible (loud) feedback, which works even when only depressed halfway. Although it’s great for serious typists, it may not be perfect for games that need fast-loading weapons. One keyboard that uses Blue switches is the HP OMEN keyboard 1100, which is crafted for high-stakes competitive gameplay.
- Cherry Red - gaming switch/linear switch with a light touch and smoother clicking. Because the switch goes all the way down, it’s ideal for a number of games. The HP Pavilion gaming keyboard 500, for instance, provides smooth keystrokes enabling quick, decisive, and silent action.
- Cherry Black - slightly stiffer. It’s excellent for games that require precision and not accidentally hitting the wrong key.
- Cherry Brown - mid-level/tactile switch. It’s ideal for when you need to switch between gaming and work-related activities.
- Cherry Silver - linear switch. It’s perfect for games that can take a heartier thrashing of the keys thanks to continually refreshing skills.
Best HP gaming keyboards
1. HP OMEN Sequencer mechanical keyboard
Designed for high-performing gamers, the HP OMEN Sequencer mechanical keyboard
uses optical technology to detect key taps by recognizing changes in light. As a result, it produces faster, more accurate responses than traditional keyboards, which depend on pressure to register commands.
In fact, you can respond in just 0.2 milliseconds, 10 times faster than other gamers who are using traditional mechanical switches, thanks to the HP OMEN Sequencer’s optical-mechanical Blue switches. And they register each move with better agility and accuracy.
The HP OMEN Sequencer is designed for durability. It’s constructed with a 70-million-click lifetime to help assure that you won’t glitch out during a huge battle or stressful competition.
The keyboard is also crafted with style as well as speed and durability. It features individually backlit keys of up to 16.8 million RGB colors from which to choose with unique, customizable effects, so you can properly match your personal preferences to your optimal gaming experience. Simply connect to the HP OMEN Command Center
to access the colors and effects.
The backlit keys also give you a competitive advantage. For instance, you can create your own shortcuts that use backlit color-coding to respond promptly to threats and eliminate enemies or fellow competitors.
With multi-functional keys for all of your needs, the HP OMEN Sequencer doesn’t stop at only gaming. While it has a gaming-optimized setup, it also adapts to basic computing needs in addition to offering superior gaming capabilities.
With a lightweight construction that weighs only 1.83 lbs, this keyboard lets you take it with you - whether you’re traveling to a multinational gaming tournament, visiting a gaming convention in the next state, or presenting a demonstration to some colleagues.
2. HP OMEN 1100 gaming keyboard
The HP OMEN 1100 gaming keyboard
is a mechanical keyboard that’s made for high-stakes competitions. Blue mechanical switches with a 50-million keystroke lifespan give you the agility you need for competitive gameplay.
Super-responsive, it detects every key press and registers every command while illuminating your accuracy with a dedicated LED light, regardless of how many keys are activated at once. The LED light helps prevent any miss-keying. In addition, each key is stylish as well as functional; each has its own LED that glows a deep, dark red. And the keys feature anti-ghosting with N-key rollover technology.
The HP OMEN 1100 keyboard has lower actuation points, so you can tap the keys as quickly and as forcefully as necessary without worrying about damaging it. Or you can apply less force and lighter strokes depending on your tasks at hand, knowing that the keyboard will detect them too.
3. HP Pavilion 500 gaming keyboard
The HP Pavilion 500 gaming keyboard
is one of the best quiet gaming keyboards. Smooth and silent, it’s a mechanical keyboard that is engineered to deliver speed in every stroke.
Built with Red mechanical switches, this keyboard provides an incredibly smooth keystroke experience that nonetheless enables quick, decisive, and silent action.
Not only can you step up your gaming experience, but you can also perform your work-related activities as efficiently (and quietly) as possible.
The HP Pavilion gaming keyboard features both a floating key design as well as RGB LED backlighting to prevent miss-keying.
Choose among a gamut of color options to truly personalize your lighting - and, in turn, gaming - experience.
Choosing the right gaming keyboard is a subjective undertaking, yet there are near-universal givens for gamers’ preferences. For instance, most gamers tend to favor mechanical keyboards, which are faster, more tactile, and more durable.
On the other hand, membrane keyboards are a favorite among some gamers who enjoy the lower pricing, portability, and smaller footprints. And then others simply want the best of both worlds in a hybrid model. When it comes to your gaming keyboard, you do you.
About the Author: Jolene Dobbin is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Jolene is an East Coast-based writer with experience creating strategic messaging, marketing, and sales content for companies in the high-tech industry.
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